The French government survived by a narrow margin a no-confidence vote on Monday after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne forced controversial pension reforms through parliament without a vote last week. The motion, tabled by a centrist party and others, was slightly short of the 287 it needed to pass, gathering 278 votes. A second planned motion of no confidence, put forth by the far-right National Rally (RN), had no chance of going through on Monday as other opposition parties said they wouldn't support it. The pension reforms, spearheaded by President Emmanuel Macron, would increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. This has led to ongoing protests in Paris and other cities since Thursday.
What happened in parliament?
Centrist lawmaker Charles de Courson opened the debate, which dragged on into Monday afternoon. "You failed to convince, so you chose the easy way out," de Courson, whose coalition supports the no-confidence vote, told the government. "You clearly distorted the spirit of the constitution." Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne defended her controversial move during the debate, saying it was a compromise. She described her use of the article to bypass a vote on the reforms as "profoundly democratic" under the French constitution. "We never went so far in building a compromise as we did with this reform," Borne was quoted as saying. After the first no-confidence vote, left-wing MPs chanted "resign! resign!" at Borne, carrying signs denouncing the pensions reform.
The election reforms triggered numerous protests and strikes in the months leading up to last Thursday. Protests erupted in major cities again after Borne used Article 49/3 of the French constitution to force the bill through parliament without a vote, a strategy the Macron government has repeatedly had to turn to since losing an absolute majority in parliament last year. Garbage collectors, oil refinery staff and other workers have continued to go on strike. A nationwide day of action has been planned for the coming Thursday.
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